AHDB leading agriculture through Brexit

Published 4 July 16

The decision to leave the EU is a game-changer for UK farming and growing. The Brexit vote opens four key areas of question for our agricultural and horticultural industries around trade, regulation, labour and support. Huge uncertainty hangs over these while the UK negotiates its departure from the EU, the most immediate and pressing challenge being to determine what relationship might be entered into in terms of access to the EU single market.

Our focus remains on equipping our levy payers and the wider industry with the tools to become more competitive and sustainable. Our first priority is to ensure that we help levy payers make sense of the issues facing the industry over the coming months. This means providing independent information and analysis on the key issues surrounding the impacts on agricultural and inputs markets, the consequences for trade and the emerging regulatory challenges.

Our second priority is to help the industry and government secure the best trading environment for UK agriculture, food and horticulture both in and outside the EU. A healthy trading environment is one of the cornerstones of our industry. AHDB’s expertise means it is uniquely placed to identify and target the best market opportunities for the UK, tap into global supply chains and facilitate relationships between UK exporters and overseas buyers. The work of AHDB offices in Brussels and Beijing will have even greater meaning and influence over the coming two years of exit negotiations.

Though the importance of the EU single market cannot be understated for UK food businesses, we already have a strong track record in market development outside the EU, having successfully worked with Defra and UKTI to secure market access to China for UK barley and pig meat and India for seed potatoes. This area of work will become ever more important once Brexit takes effect.

The industry should clearly be braced for more volatility in currency, inputs prices and commodities markets as the nature of our new relationship with Europe emerges. Our work in bringing together experts from across the industry in a Volatility Forum will be vital in steering the industry through the coming months. This group meets again at the Livestock Event next week.

Meanwhile, our sector strategy boards are coming together over the next two months to review and agree the future direction of AHDB and last week’s decision will give a fresh impetus to these discussions.

Our initiatives will clearly not provide all the answers but by encouraging the industry to work together and pool knowledge and experience, we can all start to shape the agricultural landscape.

Jane King

Chief Executive

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)